Knee Deep in the Hoopla: Starship’s Legacy on The 80s Cruise
By Steve Spears
Casting a net for memories from the first-ever 80s Cruise back in 2016, so many images and moments spring to mind. Spying Huey Lewis making a beeline for the ship among the surprised boarding masses on Embarkation Day in Fort Lauderdale. The gasp of guests as they first stepped onto the Holland America Eurodam and spotted all the 80s decor already fully plastering the ship’s walls.
But for many of us, it was that first night as we gathered in the Eurodam’s main theater awaiting the start of an amazing week of performances, starting with Starship.
Sure, we got chills at the video sizzle reel that proceeded the show, chronicling so many of the iconic moments of our beloved decade. And the first introduction of the legendary MTV veejays. But when Mickey Thomas and Starship hit the stage, everything about the trip back in time came together.
The setlist gave appropriate nods to the band’s songs over the decades:
“Sara,” “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” a medley of hits from the ’60s, but the crowd really came to life when the 80s tunes were represented. And even “We Built This City” — derided by some as one of the more “tired” anthems of our decade — gets new life at sea. Tell me you weren’t singing along when this line came along: “Marconi plays the mamba, listen to the radio, don’t you remember!”
Mickey and co-lead singer Stephanie Calvert (who has bravely stepped into the shoes of the retired Grace Slick) held court that night and then continued to dazzle fans by showing up everywhere on the ship that week. (Mickey was actually the last person I saw that week — he and I went through customs together that final morning.)
What memories will Starship add to the legacy of The 80s Cruise in 2019? Will Mickey pull out “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” from his Elvin Bishop days (now that it’s a hit again after “Guardians of the Galaxy”)? Will they kick things off the first night like they did in 2016? Or maybe anchor the cruise on closing night? And will you sing along again when “Marconi plays the mamba?” Don’t you remember: They build The 80s Cruise on rock ‘n’ roll.
To hold you over until we set sail on March 2, here’s some little-known trivia on Starship to ponder:
THE NAME: Most fans know Starship is the continuation of the band Jefferson Airplane, which was founded in 1965 and formed the sound of the 60s with anthems like “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit.” In the early 70s, the band split into two different groups — Hot Tuna and Jefferson Starship. More band member defections followed until eventually — after a few battles in court — the band known today as “Starship featuring Mickey Thomas” was formed in 1984.
FAST START: Starship’s first “new” album was 1985’s “Knee Deep in the Hoopla,” which featured a pair of No. 1 singles. Everyone remembers “We Built This City,” but did you know “Sara” was also a chart-topper? The album itself would eventually peak at No. 7 on the charts in the U.S. and has been certified platinum.
SOUNDTRACK PRINCES: While 80s Cruise performer Kenny Loggins might be the King of Movie Soundtracks, he’s by no means the only artist on board with tunes written for our favorite flicks. Starship has songs on the soundtracks for “Youngblood,” “Cocktail,” “Gross Anatomy,” and, of course, “Mannequin.”
(Steve Spears is the creator and co-host of the award-winning Stuck in the ‘80s podcast. He and co-host Brad Williams will emcee Big ‘80s Trivia again this year on the Celebrity Infinity. They’ll also record their 500th episode in front of a live audience and special guests on the 2019 voyage. You can listen to the show for free on iTunes or your favorite podcast app.)